Answered by Danya Reich on Monday, November 16, 2009
Those stubborn rolls of flesh around your middle, affectionately known as love handles, are more of a nuisance for men than women since that's one of the first places men store fat. But no matter who owns them, the only way to erase love handles is to lose weight, says Leigh Crews, a Reebok master trainer and certified personal trainer. "Spot reduction is a myth," she explains, "You lose weight all over your body, not just in one area. But with overall weight loss, you'll eventually see [the reduction] in your love handles." The fastest and most effective way to reduce love handles is to double team them. First, lose excess fat by getting plenty of aerobic exercise and eating a healthy low-fat diet; you need to burn off 3,500 more calories than you take in to lose a pound, that's about an extra hour of exercise or one less chocolate muffin per day for 10 days. Second, "you can spot build" says Crews, by focusing on the underlying abdominal muscles—rectus abdominus, external and internal obliques—and your back muscles: Do traditional and oblique crunches (lying down on your back with knees bent and tilted to a 45 degree angle to one side of your body) plus back extensions (lying face down and then raising your left leg and your right hand, then your right leg and left hand). "You should work the muscles until fatigue," recommends Crews, "for someone who's starting out, this might be 10 to 25 repetitions for each exercise." Once the fat disappears, you'll have solid muscles in its place. If you tone without losing weight, you'll end up with muscle covered by a layer of fat. And then what would they be called—"handles with care"?